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LVIII                      GHAZAN KHAN                      193
a secret until he had surprised and killed a possible com-
petitor for the throne in the person of Alafrang, son of
Gaykhatu, together with his supporters. The third son of
Arghun Khan, he had been brought up by his mother as a
Christian and baptized under the name of Nicolas, but
through the influence of his wife he had been converted to
Islam. He loved to listen to religious discussions, and was
once shocked by hearing it stated that Islam allowed
marriage with a mother, a sister, or a daughter. His
adverse impression was strengthened by a violent thunder-
storm during which some members of his court were
killed and which was interpreted as a sign that heaven
was angry at his adoption of Islam. For a while the
Sultan thought of returning to the old Mongol beliefs,
but, visiting the tomb of Ali, he there dreamed a dream
as a result of which he finally embraced the Shia tenets.
Among other events of this reign was an invasion
of Gilan, hitherto independent, which cost the Mongols
thousands of lives ; there was also a raid into Khorasan
by the Chagatay Mongols, which was beaten off. Uljaitu,
like his predecessors, corresponded with the sovereigns of
Western Europe, and it is interesting to note that they
believed him to be an enemy of Islam.1
Abu Said^ A.H. 716-736 (1316-1335).—Abu Said, the
son of Khudabanda, was only a boy of twelve when he
succeeded to the throne, although he had been the
nominal ruler of Khorasan, which to some extent had
become the appanage of the heir-apparent. His reign
was marked by disputes of the great nobles, who during
his minority contended for power. Chief among them
was Amir Chupan, the Regent, who was married to a
sister of the monarch and whose power overshadowed
the throne. The revolt of his son, whom he captured
and brought a prisoner to Sultania (the city founded by
Khudabanda), only strengthened his position, which he
might have retained but for the fact that Abu Said fell
in love with his daughter, Baghdad Khatun? whom he
1 This appears from a letter of Edward II., dated Northampton, October 16, 1307,
in which the monarch states that the English King would employ all his efforts " to
extirpate the abominable sect of Mohamed."
3 Khatun signifies " lady."
VOL. II                                                                                          O